It's that divide between who you think you are and who everyone else thinks you are.
I know that a lot of people see me as fearless. And it's true that I will catapult myself where angels fear to tread...sometimes with little provocation and tremendous glee.
Worry not. I fear plenty of things. I am terrified of plenty of things, and I don't use that word lightly.
One thing that I do not fear is making a fool of myself. I am an expert in this, I do it regularly, and I've always been reasonably good about laughing at myself and my own foibles.
The afternoon we arrived in New York was pretty warm, and because the subway train we'd taken from Penn Station decided not to stop at 50th street where it was supposed to stop, we finally disembarked at Columbus Circle, almost a mile from where we wanted to be. Undeterred, I told everyone just to grab their suitcase and head down 8th Avenue.
(Trust me, you see people dragging suitcases all over New York. I did not feel out of place. The son, who is fragile at this age, was mightily put upon...until he saw people pulling suitcases bigger than ours down the road.)
Naturally, our hotel ended up being a bit posh, but I marched up to the registration desk, rather damp and plenty disheveled and got us checked in. The delay had cost us some time, so after we deposited our luggage, and everyone washed hands, we decided to find dinner as the daughter was swooning from hunger.
It turned out that a grill that is attached to but not part of our hotel had just opened, and the front desk had given us a coupon for a dessert, and I was traveling with two kids who like their dessert.
It was early, I was disheveled and I marched up to the hostess podium and asked about a table for dinner, admitting gracefully that I'd failed to make a reservation and noting with no pleasure that I was not dressed to eat in a hip place.
"Do you have a Groupon?" the hostess asked me.
"I am most assuredly not cool enough to have a Groupon," I told her gravely.
Which made her laugh, and she cheerfully took us back to a table.
Once we were seated and perusing our menus, I realized uncomfortably that the restaurant was rather stuffy, and I was already glowing rather violently. I picked up my menu and fanned myself briskly, saying to no one, "Come on, kids, let's turn up the air conditioning. I'm having a hot flash!"
And a handsome young man, who turned out to be our server, put his head around the pillar, looking quite alarmed, and asked, "Are you too warm? I'd be happy to turn up the air for you."
The son and daughter were mortified, but I laughed out loud, assuring him that really, I was ok (and not having a hot flash, thank god. I haven't reached that state quite yet) but that we'd had to drag our bags through the steamy streets.
He commiserated and told us then that he would be with us in a moment, and when he temporarily vanished, the daughter wailed, "Mom-meeee! Did you have have to say that so loud?"
And the son announced that perhaps I could refrain from being quite so rambunctious.
I sighed as our server returned--my children can be so Victorian--and promptly began querying him on the wine list.
For what it's worth, I did not refrain from my purported rambunctiousness--I was not behaving in any way out of order and I will happily chat with anyone who wants to chat--and by evening's end, our server had pronounced us "best table ever," and the owner and the chef and the manager had stopped by to say hello.
(Or check out the sideshow...one never knows.)
Yeah, had I known the server was standing behind me, maybe I wouldn't have said "hot flash." But I did. Joke was on me. But a judicious bit of levity can make for a fun evening and it did, even if I wasn't dressed for the occasion.
Go listen to some good music: "Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk" from the album Together by The New P*rnographers. Sometimes, when I get going, I get breathlessly vivacious. Later, I wonder what on earth I've said. It's the Gemini curse: I can be deathly silent or you can't shut me up.